Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mele Kalikimaka!: Virtual Advent Tour--Day 10

Happy holidays to everyone! I've been pretty nervous about how exactly to share my family's holiday traditions, as we're pretty nontraditional. However, I actually think that Christmas over the past ten years has been every bit as exciting as a child, filled with wonderful NEW traditions as my wonderful family has shifted and changed.

I grew up as an only child, in a beautiful home that overlooked the Snake River, from what used to be my grandfather's farm. We could always count on snow frosted tree branches, sparkling snow drifts, and maybe even a Star Trek-like blizzard flying at our car windshield on Christmas Eve as we drove from one family member's home to another. My dad was always the type to give us each a "non-practical" toy or gag gift on Christmas Day, because, "Christmas is meant for the little kid in us," he used to say.

Well, that was then. Yes, as an only child, I will admit to missing other brothers and sisters charging my door early in the morning, or conspiring to open presents pre-Christmas Day, but today, and as an adult, things are vastly different! Eleven years ago, while I was in my early days of college, my father passed away from breast cancer only months before Christmas. That was the first thing to really change our Christmas. In the absence of 1/3 of our small family, we absolutely FILLED the tree with gifts so that we wouldn't notice anything missing. My mom and I continued to visit family on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas Day, we would leisurely sleep in, make wonderful Lehi Roller Mill cranberry scones and hot chocolate, and spend a lazy day opening gifts and lounging around watching Christmas movies.

That changed again almost three years ago when my mother was offered a job in Hawaii and moved to Laie, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. I won't lie. We both panicked a little over what to do! Where do we go Christmas Eve? How do you even get a Christmas Tree? Is it feasible to stock a Christmas with presents when you have an ocean to cross to get them there and back? The answers were much simpler than we thought, and I shudder to think about what will happen when my mother moves home from what has become as much of a new island home to us as our little snow covered home.

So, here's what we do in Hawaii...and I love it! That first Christmas my cousin Kyle came and spent the holidays with us, so it was an easy transition. We just played on the beach a lot, and I learned NEVER to get near big waves again. (That's a story in and of itself!) Yes, we had a Charlie Brown tree that first year, which my mom has since replaced with a small artificial tree, covered in beautiful Hawaiian flowers, shell ornaments, and white lights. My mother usually has to work up until Christmas Eve Day, so I like to head down to the Hukilau Beach, which I can walk to from our house. On Christmas Eve Day, we usually relax, maybe hitting the beach again, where you will find lots of families gathering to simply sit around and chat and play. (I'll be honest, we usually head down with our beach chairs and read a good book!) That evening, we have made it a tradition to attend the Polynesian Cultural Center's famous luau, followed by their evening show. I so look forward to this exciting evening, as the festive decorations and Christmas vibe are overwhelmingly sweet and joyous.

(I wish I had a picture of palm trees decorated in Christmas lights, but this is another picture that I snapped.)

Christmas Day is pretty normal, except that we never wake to snow now! We still take the morning a little slow, still eating our traditional Christmas morning scones (no hot chocolate just doesn't work there), with fresh fruit, and scrambled eggs. Now, rather than hunkering down for the day to cuddle up with toys, games, and Christmas movies, we have to get out to walk the neighborhood. Everyone seems to be out, kids playing with toys, families laughing and yelling out their greetings, all having a great time. Then, we either go watch the sun set, ironically enough, on Sunset Beach or off of Laie Point.

Although my small, maybe somewhat non-traditional, family has shifted and evolved over the past eleven years, we're still pretty simple. What was once spent in a wonderful, snowy covered wonderland, is now spent in an equally wonderful, sandy island paradise. Regardless of where it's spent though, my family is the equation that makes it memorable and happy.

Stop by this year's "2009 Virtual Advent Tour" to visit other bloggers and hear about their holiday traditions and happenings! Thanks to all who put this together for a great way of sharing our holidays with one another.

Now that we're in Hawaii, we like to keep yummy, slushy drinks on hand. I wanted to share our favorite recipe with you, which if kept on hand in the freezer, can just be chunked up and thrown into a glass with Sprite or something bubbly poured over it. We've actually had this recipe in the family for years, but now we keep it in the freezer all through the holidays!

Christmas Party Punch/Slush

Boil together until sugar melts:
2 c. Sugar
3 c. water

Cool and add:
1/2 of a large can of pineapple juice (We actually like pineapple-mango.)
1 can of orange juice concentrate
1 small can or 1/2 regular can of lemon juice concentrate
2 ripe bananas smashed

Ladle into freezer containers or several large cake pans. We find it's easier to chip up if we start off in sheet pans & then transfer the chipped, frozen pieces to freezer baggies. You can then either thaw your slush slightly, or chip it off, put it in a tall glass, and cover with Sprite or some other fizzy drink! (This recipe has been cut in half, as it was too large and meant for a HUGE crowd if doubled.)


  1. How awesome! I wish I could go to Hawaii for Christmas. Who needs snow, anyway? Snow=blech.

  2. It's nice to "meet" another Hawaii resident. I live on Kauai and will be posting my entry on Monday. As an only child I can relate to what you wrote. Happy Holidays from Rob

  3. If I were Santa, I'd make Hawaii my last stop on Christmas! What a wonderful place to live!

  4. While I absolutely love a traditional white Christmas (and have only experienced them three in my lifetime), the thought of a warm Hawaiian holiday sounds quite lovely.

    I hope you and your family have a joyous Christmas and prosperous New Year!

  5. I love how you have happily embraced the changes in your traditions. And Christmas in Hawaii *does* sound like fun!

  6. I just had a very similar drink at my sister's bridal shower. It was so yummy, I couldn't get enough!
    This is a great contribution to the Virtual Advent Tour. Christmas is where you make it, when you make it and I think this demonstrates that perfectly.

  7. I do so miss Christmas in Laie - especially about walking all around town Christmas day to see friends. I'd forgotten that part.

    When we lived on Iosepa St, we had a big ol' mango tree that hung into our yard from the neighbor's, and my mom made mango puree that we froze and used in a slush very similar to yours. Fun times!

  8. What a lovely way to spend the holiday! I think that it's very wise to change up the Christmas traditions as things change. It sounds like you and your family (traditional or not!) have kept the heart of what really matters. I hope you have a wonderful celebration this year too.

  9. Wow! I have a hard time wrapping my brain around how different that first Christmas in Hawaii must have been! Although it definitely sounds like you both adjusted to it really well, adopting new customs, keeping the important ones of your own, and blending some together.

    Thanks for sharing such a unique perspective!

  10. Mele Kalikimaka! My dad spent two years in Hawaii, and I grew up with stories of Hawaiian Christmas... it sounds heavenly. (Especially right now, when it's cold outside!) Thanks for sharing your unique traditions.

  11. 'Maybe even a Star Trek-like blizzard flying at our car windshield on Christmas Eve as we drove from one family member's home to another.' - We used to love that on our Christmas Eve drive home from my cousins' house!

    What a wonderful post. You've answered a life-long puzzlement over what I'd do to celebrate Christmas in a sandy, rather than a snowy, place. Hawaii sounds like it's filled with joy over the holidays!

  12. That is a wonderful post! Maybe it's different than the way you are used to celebrating Christmas, but looks like you have all the really important elements in there :-)

  13. Non-traditional is good! And it sounds like you and your mom still have a wonderful Christmas. Happy Holidays!

  14. mele kalikimaka to you too! And what a sight to see, palm trees with lights. I enjoyed your post very much. We have a tradition of exploring different cultures each year. Two years ago we did Hawaii. I think your pretty lucky to be able to live there.

  15. Thanks for all the nice comments everyone! I'm excited to be leaving to fly over to see my mom soon, so let the traditions continue!

  16. Sorry I am so slow in commenting on your post! I am a day behind. Bad host.

    I have often wondered what it would be like to go somewhere without snow for Christmas after getting used to snow. I doubt I would mind if it meant spending time in Hawaii! Thanks for joining in for the Virtual Advent! Happy Holidays!

  17. It sounds truly wonderful... except the part about your dad not being with you anymore. :( For our church party this year, we had "Christmas in Hawaii" and it was so fun!

    So do you go to Hawaii every year? Or does you Mom ever come back here?